Victory for the Spaniard makes it four wins from four at the start of his first season in World Superbikes and underlines the huge power shift in the sport.
Jonathan Rea has dominated World Superbikes for years, but was again forced to settle for second place after a tough tussle with Bautista.
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The pair battled throughout, but Bautista explained that he was expecting such a test:
Watching the practice, I expected this kind of race. For sure, Jonathan was aggressive, but for me it was easier to go at my pace because I knew I could go one or two tenths faster than him.
But signs are that the 34-year-old won't be resting on his laurels, adding: "We won the race and I’m very happy, but we need to analyse what happened to try to resolve power problems for tomorrow."
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Speaking after the race to Eurosport, Rea partially blamed a lack of speed before crediting Bautista:
You can’t give away the sort of time we are. I busted my arse the whole race, I was pushing way over the limit the whole race – my front tyre was screaming at me. I ran out of edge grip because of the way I was pushing. Alvaro did an incredible job, especially at the end, but I think it’s clear to see my frustrations. But I really did my best. I enjoyed the race because I got stuck in. I wanted it, I had that fire in my belly. I’m proud of myself and I’m proud of my team. If we take Alvaro out of the situation we were very fast today.
One particular incident with 18 laps remaining encapsulated the tussle between the two riders, with Bautista overtaking and Rea attempting to come back on the inside. The two touched, and only spectacular skill from the Spaniard stopped him from going down.
"He came past me so fast but went wide," Rea said when asked about the incident. "I cut back underneath him but was already on the limit on the front tyre. I felt a touch of something, maybe his leg or arm, but I’m glad he didn’t go down. When I saw my pit board and +0.8 Bautista I thought phew, that was close. Anyway at least I showed some fight and I wasn’t going to give it to him lying down."
But Bautista certainly didn't see the incident as such an innocent one, suggesting that Rea took the wrong line and admitting he was fortunate not to go down.
"I have now to repair my suit leather," Bautista said. "Fortunately I was very, very, very lucky not to crash, but I was very close."
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